What do DTC brands like Harry’s, Stitch Fix, and Warby Parker have in common? Apart from being the world’s most valuable DTC brands, they’re influential brands known to shape the opinions and actions of people. Harry’s influenced men to question the price of razors, Stitch Fix influenced people shy of shopping to be stylish, and Warby Parker influenced eyeglass wearers to love their frames.
These brands were founded around 2010 and are publicly traded companies now. But newer DTC brands are achieving growth by influencing people with messages that are equally as powerful.
The path is not easy for newer DTC brands to become influential, but following certain steps can make the journey easier. Some steps occur spontaneously (step one) while others require the right connections (step two and four) and pure execution (step three).
Step One: Create a fresh perspective
Influential brands are born from a founder’s experience that forms a perspective that challenges the status quo.
The founder of Anyday, a microwavable cookware brand, believes that the microwave is an underutilized appliance in a world where people feel strapped for time to connect with each other yet crave delicious, home cooked meals. Many would disagree with or overlook the idea that the microwave is capable of cooking gourmet meals. Anyday makes them believe.
A perspective like this comes from a founder’s experience. It can be an experience like Graza’s founder who tasted “real” olive oil for the first time when living at his wife’s family’s house in Cadiz, Spain. Or it can be a “started as an accident” experience like Anyday’s founder who put chicken in the microwave on a busy night and opened the microwave door to “perfectly juicy” chicken.
From these experiences and perspectives a culture is born. For example, Anyday has a culture of convenience, and Graza has a culture of quality. These cultures manifest as companies and products that influence people and help grow a business..
Let’s look at how this process works for a few more influential brands.
Many people have experiences that shape perspectives. But how do you offer this to the world? Creators do it through content. Brands do it through products. Influential brands do it through exceptional products.
Step Two: Create an exceptional product
The product you create must be as powerful as the perspective that inspired it, or else any influence that was gained goes away immediately. One example of an exceptional product is Anyday’s microwavable cookware.
Anyday’s founder, Steph Chen, believes that the microwave is an underutilized appliance in a world where people feel strapped for time to connect with each other yet crave delicious, home-cooked meals. That belief inspired her to create microwavable containers and lids that efficiently seal the moisture needed to create delicious meals in a matter of minutes.
To make an exceptional product, Chen partnered with David Chang, a chef and founder of the Momofuku restaurant group. One of the restaurants in the group, Momofuku Ko, received two Michelin stars and has retained them ever since.
You can buy microwave cookware on Amazon, but people buy it from Anyday because they can connect with the story and the story is backed by a product that’s better than any private label product on Amazon. Further, the quality of the hero product inspires customers to purchase other products from Anyday, including food from their Canal-powered marketplace called Pantry Partners.
Step Three: Create inspirational and educational content
Building an influential brand isn’t just done through social media, it’s done through influencing at every touchpoint: sharing a story and relating it back to what you are selling.
An example of this is on Anyday’s ecommerce site. The founder is at the bottom of every page via Tolstoy video. She dispels myths around microwaves and talks about the benefits of using one for cooking. After educating people about matters surrounding the product, she talks about the actual product.
In addition to the founder connecting directly with her audience, Anyday challenges the notion that inspirational recipes and content are an “influencer thing” rather than a “brand thing.” The team creates pages like this to answer questions like “Can you microwave shrimp?” and articles like this to answer questions like “Is metal safe in the microwave?”.
Anyday also publishes shoppable recipe posts that include a “free time” idea which relates back to its culture of convenience.
Step Four: Partner with other influential brands
When you have influence, you can partner with other influential brands to spread that influence to new audiences. For example, Anyday partnered with A Dozen Cousins to create a microwave recipe for Spanish-style seafood rice. Both brands cross-promoted the recipe on their Instagram pages, spreading their influence to each other’s audience.
You can also start co-branding and co-selling partnerships with other brands to increase your influence while increasing revenue. Below are some examples of brands on Canal teaming up with each other.
These influential brands partnered through co-branding:
And these influential brands partnered through co-selling:
Sustain and monetize your influence with partnerships
To sustain your influence and spread it further, you must partner with the right brands as these brands have. This means finding brands with integrous founder stories, fresh perspectives, and exceptional products.
We created Canal to help with the process of discovering influential brands to partner with. In addition to offering a curated network that helps you find brands with values that align with your own, you can create new revenue streams by entering into ecommerce partnerships.